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Cloud IT Technology

How Increasing Cloud Reliance Affects IT Jobs 194

Posted by Soulskill
from the bob-here-will-escort-you-out-of-the-building dept.
snydeq writes "Kevin Fogarty takes a look at how the rise of cloud computing will impact IT jobs, outlining which roles stand to gain prominence in the years to come, and which roles will suffer as organizations extend their commitments to the cloud. 'Ultimately the bulk of IT could look more like a projects office than the way it looks now, when most of the hands-on work is done inside. It probably won't be a total transformation, but moving into cloud, there will be more of that and less DIY.'"
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How Increasing Cloud Reliance Affects IT Jobs

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  • by tverbeek (457094) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:25AM (#36744828) Homepage

    Great, I was hoping they'd get around to removing the last bits of enjoyment from my career before I retire. They're even ahead of schedule!

    • You were lucky. At least you got to have some enjoyable bits. Nowadays it's all about system engineering and learning to use MagicDraw.

    • by tubs (143128) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @03:37AM (#36745674)

      Don't worry, in a few years a new company will come along, with a great new product that will allow you to cheaply pull the information back into your organisation, handing power back to users, distributing access and design.

      This will then be followed by a period of great excitement, with some people making themselves rich, but then that company will become large and bloated, creating more and more bloated systems, and then we'll be sending our information back out to a "central" system.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:30AM (#36744856)

    Your business is dead in the water.

    If that only happens 2 days a year, you just factor that as a cost unless there is some critical reason you must remain up (hospital).

    Also, it becomes difficult to differentiate your business from others.

    As jobs get completely slaughtered something has to give. Shorter work weeks or civil unrest.

    • Who do you trust? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:55AM (#36744976)

      The problem with the "cloud" is that you put your complete trust in
      a. the cloud provider
      b. the telco that connects you to the cloud

      As anyone who has ever had to deal with outside vendors knows, they have no real commitment to your business. You are a single account.

      When your business cannot connect to the systems, it is a crisis for your business.

      For them, it is another day in the office.

      • by gullevek (174152)

        After the big earthquake in Japan we see this different. Electricity won't go out in a worldwide cloud net, compared to the servers that might be in a location that is affected by possible lights out plans ...

      • by yarnosh (2055818)

        As anyone who has ever had to deal with outside vendors knows, they have no real commitment to your business. You are a single account.

        Except when they do. Through an SLA. Also, they have a reputation to maintain. It just isn't good business to go letting your clients flap in the wind.

        Now, personally, I absolutely hate relying on outside vendors for support when I know that I have the expertise to handle most problems myself given the right access. But, to someone who doesn't have that expertise, it doesn't really matter a whole lot if the support is outside or inside the company. I don't think it is as bleak as you paint it. You can ge

        • You need to be really careful about SLA's.

          There are horror stories about SLA's.

          For example: No more than 1% downtime per year sounds good-- but that allows them to have you down up to 3 days.

          A friends million dollar printer went down. Other bigger customers with SLA's were also having problems at the same time. They got service after about 36 hours. Sure- they got some SLA fine money. Lost a lot more.

          Could have ALSO happened if they had an inhouse repair person that got sick/died, etc. But SLA's are ju

      • It depends on the business. I've had a server hosted with a couple of small colo businesses for a while. In both cases, they employed under a dozen people, and if I had any problems then there was always someone available to fix them. That someone would always be a person who was empowered to make decisions, and whose income depended on keeping customers happy. On the other hand, I don't have the contact details of anyone in a management position at my ISP. If I call them, I talk to someone in an outso
    • Excellent point. Netflix has moved almost all of the infrastructure into Amazon AWS. If you want to buy Netflix, I'm assuming they'd hand you the keys to the AWS login and the contracts they have in place with media groups (yes, the distribution centers are a different story, go with it for the example).

      What sort of value does your business have if someone else is running all the infrastructure behind it? And that infrastructure company sells resources cheap to anyone else in the world? You could build a Ne

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        You could build a Netflix, a Dropbox, a DNSMadeEasy/DynDNS/UltraDNS, etc., as long as you have a team with the time to build it.

        Isn't that true regardless of whether they host the apps in the cloud or not? It's the software that's hard to replicate. While your team tries to duplicate Netflix's software, your hardware team could be racking servers in the datacenter(s).

        Netflix probably pays $200M/year or more in bandwidth costs - the cost of hardware to pump out the bandwidth pales in comparison to the bandwidth itself.

        Perhaps you can save some money by going to the cloud, but at the scale of a company like Netflix, I'd be surprised i

        • by hoppo (254995)

          At that scale, though, Netflix probably negotiated a pretty sweet deal with Amazon. A flagship customer like Netflix really overcomes a lot of the objections customers may have. It's a pretty powerful answer to any company who questions whether or not Amazon can operate on an enterprise scale. Odds are, Amazon is sacrificing its profit margins, possibly even eating a loss, to host Netflix's operations.

      • by yarnosh (2055818)

        What sort of value does your business have if someone else is running all the infrastructure behind it?

        I'm not sure you really "get" how services like Amazon AWS/S3 work. All they do is manage the physical infrastructure at the lowest level. You still have to write your software to use all of it and tie it together. That's where the real value lies (in terms infrastructure). Making good use of Amazon is no trivial matter.

        You could build a Netflix, a Dropbox, a DNSMadeEasy/DynDNS/UltraDNS, etc., as long as you have a team with the time to build it.

        Absolutely. And that's what makes services like Amazon and Terramark so compelling. The thing is, not everyone can't be successful at it. Anyone could go out and start a website for almost

    • by lpp (115405) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:21AM (#36745072) Homepage Journal

      Also, it becomes difficult to differentiate your business from others.

      Right now, the differentiator between you and me should not be how we store our data. Whether my data resides on a server in my office or in a databank with some outfit I can only access through my ISP, what decides it for our potential clients should be the quality of service we offer respectively, or even the types of service we offer.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am on board with shorter work weeks. A 4 day work seems adequate for most professions. Heck we could even have 4 9 hour days instead of 5 8 hour days if shaving 20% off the work week seems too big at first. I would think most people would be happier even if each workday is a bit longer.

      • I generally have to work 9 or more hours in a day anyway. Sure, some of it is spent on /. but there are more then enough 10+ hour, "must get shit done" days to make up for the slow ones. An extra day off in a week would make me more then willing to make the other four 10 hour days.

    • by yarnosh (2055818)

      If that only happens 2 days a year, you just factor that as a cost unless there is some critical reason you must remain up (hospital).

      Not sure I see something like a hospital move to the "cloud," but stranger things can happen. I mean, I'm pretty sure they're smart enough to realize that they can't bet everything on their internet connection. For most everyone else.. meh. It isn't like in-house systems never go down. You might have an awesome team who keeps things running like a well oiled machine, but I hardly think that's much of a candidate for moving to cloud anyway.

      Also, it becomes difficult to differentiate your business from others.

      If you're relying on tools/software to "differentiate" yourself from

    • by trevelyon (892253)
      I see more than a few problems with this article not the least being the base assumption that cloud computing will continue to grow at the pace it has so far. Cloud computing has the following major issues that still need to be addressed:

      1. Reliability - Cloud services still can not match well managed in-house IT for dependability IMO
      2. SLAs - Anyone that has actually negotiated and enforced SLAs knows what a joke they are. Unless you get the entire month's service cost for free when they provider mis
    • by andy1307 (656570)

      Your business is dead in the water.

      Yes..because that sort of thing never happens when you host the services in-house.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:35AM (#36744882) Homepage Journal

    Sod IT, go to law school. When it's all up in the cloud and the cloud breaks there'll be a killing to be made.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Sod IT, go to law school. When it's all up in the cloud and the cloud breaks there'll be a killing to be made.

      If "killing" is what you are after, then yes.
      Speaking for myself, I'd prefer to retrain as (for example) a driving instructor: at least this job won't be outsourced anytime soon and in the spare time I can write some open-source. Remember the end of the "Office space"?

    • Interestingly, software is affecting law industry big time. Gone are the days when lawyers needed to burn the midnight oil to research relevant cases. With a document managing software with proper tagging features, even you can become a lawyer! [cnn.com].
    • by xtal (49134)

      It's funny, but if you can stomach it it's not a bad idea for an engineer with a lot of industry experience.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Don't you believe it. It's a fantastically competitive field to get into, so much so that it's quite common for reputable law schools (and for that matter law firms) to demand every applicant have perfect exam results going right back to their schooldays even if they enter the profession as a mature student many years after they left school.

    • by AtlantaSteve (965777) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:15AM (#36747512)

      I'm a 12+ year Java developer, who recently completed a JD at a T2 law school. I was basically bored and unsatisfied in my career. I still love to code, but I've seen pretty much everything there is to see... and I spend 95% of my time in meetings or wrestling with environmental dependencies rather than coding.

      However, I've stayed in I.T. regardless, because the grass is NOT greener on the other side. As with anything else in society, the top-5% of lawyers are doing great... but things are miserable for the bottom-95%. It's the worst legal job market in almost a hundred years. It can take a year or two of searching to find a legal job, and the only legal jobs available consist of soul-crushing drudgery (even by I.T. standards). Finally, the average salary for non-top-5% lawyer is about 50% below that of an experienced Java developer (who can always land a new job on a few weeks notice).

      I know that the parent comment was played for sarcasm, but don't believe the hype. The legal field sucks much worse than I.T.

    • Fuck law school, and feel sorry for the lawyers. You don't know how bad those kids have it, these days.

      Nationwide, salaries for starting law school grads have been dropping steadily since 2008. The job market for JDs is utter shit, and will probably stay that way for a while. Much of the classes of 2008-09 are still looking for their first "real" jobs (i.e., requiring a laws degree, not a Starbucks' apron). Check out the numbers:

      * http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Attorney_%2F_Lawyer/Salary

      Tha

  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:42AM (#36744910) Journal
    "Cloud" exists because the MBA's wanted their own word for Internet.
    • No, it's because "virtualization" is way too hard to spell.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        No, it's because "virtualization" is way too hard to spell.

        that and v13n is hardly a buzz-word.

      • by mini me (132455)

        The Cloud is an abstract interface, not a specific technology. It always has been. Look at some networking documents from years ago and you'll find the cloud present. The cloud services might be implemented using virtualization, but you don't care, because it is just an abstract network that you throw your bits at.

        I think it is funny that we see regular people getting the concept of the cloud while technical folk, who have been using the term for decades, are trying to turn it into something new.

        • by cforciea (1926392)
          Bullshit. Cloud computing has had a very specific meaning for a very long time; specifically, it is when you have one virtualized, logical machine that is is running on some arbitrary number of physical hosts. Just because a bunch of asstards have come in and turned it into some almost meaningless buzzword that means vaguely Software as a Service doesn't mean it's always been that way. You assholes should have picked a term that wasn't already in use if you didn't want there to be confusion.
          • by mini me (132455)

            The Cloud is not the same as Cloud Computing. The Cloud is this [blogspot.com] (Special note: Image is dated 1998). Somewhere in the fog is your service. You, the end user, don't care about how it works, it just does – always.

            • by cforciea (1926392)
              That's retroactive etymology. Yes, network diagrams have used clouds to represented abstracted away network architecture and/or the Internet for a really long time. But storing things on a/the cloud originally referred to storing it on a cloud computing cluster. The term was just hijacked by a bunch of people in marketing departments and then retconned by apologists into a term originating from unrelated clouds on network diagrams.
          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Bullshit. Cloud computing has had a very specific meaning for a very long time; specifically, it is when you have one virtualized, logical machine that is is running on some arbitrary number of physical hosts. Just because a bunch of asstards have come in and turned it into some almost meaningless buzzword that means vaguely Software as a Service doesn't mean it's always been that way. You assholes should have picked a term that wasn't already in use if you didn't want there to be confusion.

            You sound like the guy that used to go around correcting people about baud rates "Bullshit! Your modem isn't 28.8baud, it is 3200 baud and 28.8bps! Baud has had a very specific meaning for a very long time and now your asstards can't tell the difference between baud and bps!"

            The fight is already lost, the definition of "cloud computing" is so cloudy now (pun intended) that you have to ask for clarification every time someone uses the term.

            • by cforciea (1926392)
              I know the fight is already lost. I just took issue with GGP's implication that somehow people who knew what cloud computing was before the cloud became a buzzword were somehow incapable of grasping the new, crappy, nebulous term and were therefore trying to alter it.

              Not to say my blood doesn't boil every time I see that commercial that somehow implicates "The Cloud" as the means by which some lady is editing digital photos, but I do know better than to spend a lot of effort trying to resist the decay o
          • should have picked a term that wasn't already in use if you didn't want there to be confusion.

            Confusion is part and parcel of marketing, it's part of their bag of tricks. After all, confused and ill-informed people are much easier to manipulate without being detected and even if they do find out that they've been lied too, there's always another mark.

        • The Cloud is an abstract interface, not a specific technology. It always has been. Look at some networking documents from years ago and you'll find the cloud present. The cloud services might be implemented using virtualization, but you don't care, because it is just an abstract network that you throw your bits at.

          I think it is funny that we see regular people getting the concept of the cloud while technical folk, who have been using the term for decades, are trying to turn it into something new

          LOL clouds on network diagrams ususally point to networks or systems outside of your administrative domain.

          Is that all "the cloud" is?

          • by mini me (132455)

            Yes, absolutely. But the key point is that, like the internet itself, it has to always be available and just works. Take S3, as an example. Amazon distributes your data across multiple datacenters in geographically distinct locations. Even if a couple of datacenters were blown to smithereens, your data would still show up just like it always has without you ever having known anything has happened. That is why it is shown as an abstract cloud instead of a single wire to a single computer.

        • The cloud is something new!

          The cloud has nothing to do with "network"!!
          From a programmers point of view a cloud aware application does not need to know anything about memory, cpu and back storage.

          Everything is abstracted away and virtualized independendly.

          During deployment you only bind a name to a service, you don't even knwo how the service si running, that is up to the cloud provider.

          The service can dynamic scale with load (increase cpu, memory etc. assigned to it) or can be capped to not exceed certain

        • You know, I was pretty sure it was on a flowchart template I was given when I started work. I still have it, somewhere.

          Apparently I was wrong [blogs.com], but I do recall it being used in the way you suggest, vague memories of some EDI stuff I did many years ago.

  • by afidel (530433) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:48AM (#36744928)
    Well then it's a good thing that VMWare just put up a big old toll plaza on the road to the cloud that will slow things down significantly for many organizations. For those that aren't aware VMWare just announced their pricing model for ESX 5 and it's pretty freaking outrageous, $90/GB list bought in $2800 increments if you want Enterprise with most of the good features.
    • Holy shit. Why wouldn't you just go with Openstack, KVM, or Xen at those prices?

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        Holy shit. Why wouldn't you just go with Openstack, KVM, or Xen at those prices?

        Because outside of trivial environments it's not a significant expense, and because VMware is the best.

        • by afidel (530433)
          We're what I'd call non-trivial (240VM's today, up from a handful 18 months ago) and yes a $100k licensing upgrade cost to utilize the exact same resources we have today is VERY significant, plus it increases ongoing costs because you have to pay subscription and support on all those additional licenses. To put that in perspective it's more than 1/4th the cost of our entire farm including hardware with 5 years 24x7 6 hour support, Microsoft licensing, and existing VMWare licensing. All for what amounts to a
      • by jimicus (737525)

        Don't know about Openstack, but KVM and Xen both suffer the same problem.

        They provide you with a fairly primitive - albeit effective - toolkit. They don't provide you with a pre-cooked setup which you can just hit "Install" on and 15 minutes later, away you go. If you want to do anything flashy (for instance, put together something that competes with AWS), you are going to have to dedicate insane amounts of time to it.

        If you just need virtualisation on a couple of cheapie Dell servers they're fantastic. But

    • I'm curious to see what their SnS cost is now. If you've ever seen year 2 of licensing you know that it's nowhere near the purchase cost for that year of support. Honestly though, they had to do something even though this is waaaaay off the deep end.

      Compared to capacity 3 years ago, we could have dropped 30%CPU lics around this year after a major blade hardware refresh from many mixed dual socket 2-4 core, 16-48GB blades to a few dual socket 6 core 96GB blades. Increased capacity and cpu on new sockets i

      • by afidel (530433)
        I'm already at 72GB/CPU physical which means to actually use my existing hardware I'd be paying 225% of my current licensing, and my boxes are tame compared to some configurations like R910 with only dual CPU's but lots of ram or IBM x5 with the memory expander or Cisco UCS with their big memory configuration. My favorite slide was new bigger guests supported (1TB of ram!), with my snide comment of "if you can afford the $112k in licensing just for that VM". I'd say the best compromise probably would have b
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:54AM (#36744968) Journal
    "The Cloud" is really just the latest advance in the relentless encroachment of "appliances", which are just the IT-specific implementation of the replacement of skilled tradesmen with capital-intensive systems and disposable peons that has already done a pretty good job in other industries.

    You can replace thousands of jacks-of-many-trades smalltime sysadmins with a few architects and a bunch of screwdriver monkeys. ROI, here we come! (Even the confusion over what constitutes a "cloud" arguably shows the progression in finer detail: Things like EC2 only abstract away the hardware and interconnect stuff, while leaving you with the need for VM admins to actually turn the cloud into services. Things like Azure or Google's App whatever it is abstract away the sysadmins and leave you just needing the coders to write the applications. Hosted applications, webapps, 3rd-party email providers and the like abstract away the apps, and just leave you to point the client at the right URL. As soon as we all get our Chromebooks, we can fire everybody but the licensing person and the janitor, and each replacement laptop will automatically be provisioned according to the spreadsheet maintained by the licensing person as soon as the janitor plunks it on top of the RFID fob built into the desk...)

    On the (very bleak) bright side, we might at least get to enjoy a little righteous schadenfreude when the axe comes for those techie-uber-libertarians who have spent years watching other peoples' creeping unemployment with the smug conviction that they are too good for that, and the peons can always retrain for the new jobs that the invisible hand of innovation will shortly be providing...
    • IT technology and its pseudo-toys (a "want" over the "needs" such as the iPad) are still a moving target within the industry. As such, there will always be a layer of complexity and complications that will require a support staff. We can argue whether or not that staff is internal, or provided by an MSP (Managed Service Provider). But none the less, IT support will always be around and thus so too will there be job openings to fulfill that role.

  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:55AM (#36744978)
    Corporations without any IT staff interfacing with "vendors" who are highly proficient at making soothing technical noises while cranking out large bills? Wheeee...money growing on MBA-shaped trees.

    And "What trade secrets?" is the least of it....CEOs better start being careful about the content of the emails they send to their mistresses, 'cuz leverage is leverage.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Private clouds will win in the end. With public clouds you get:

    1. No hardware control.
    a) You have no control over your server hardware. It could be running on counterfeit bits of string and chewing gum from China for all you know (try explaining that to a defense contractor).
    b) You have no control over physical access to your hardware. You'd better hope the guy they hired at minimum wage to watch the door at night didn't get a better offer.
    c) You have no control over bandwidth and connectivity agreements. I

  • by codepunk (167897)

    Loaded and migrated well over 300 servers this year from in-house data centers to EC2. You cloud skeptics can keep denying while I keep migrating.

    • Re:yep (Score:4, Informative)

      by mini me (132455) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @01:54AM (#36745194)

      EC2 is not the cloud. EC2 can provide you with the tools necessary to build a cloud service, but by itself it just a datacenter full of computers. And you cannot throw your application on a few EC2 instances in the same datacenter and call it a cloud application either. That is not the cloud, that's just a networked application.

      If a service cannot survive simultaneous catastrophic failures in multiple physical locations, it is not a cloud service. Without being intimately familiar with it, I would like to say that Amazon's S3 service would fit the bill for being a cloud service. Given what Amazon has said about it, it does sound like it meets the criteria of the cloud. EC2, however, does not.

      • by afidel (530433)
        Actually S3 has the same failure domains as EC2 unless you pay $$$$$ for multizone replication.
  • I gotta say, I've tried several "Cloud" services and I am not impressed when it comes to TCO. While it's nice to have on demand provisioning, the performance of the virtual server instances are generally very poor compared to basic dedicated servers that are similarly priced.

    Don't believe me.... run a simple sysbench and test the cpu and file io on EC2 (or your favorite cloud service) and compare it to a hosted dedicated box. In general on a similarly priced and spec-ed VM/machine you are going to find
  • We have had this discussion with our clients, and none of them has moved to the cloud. A new business might very well be able to start with cloud services and possibly migrate some data inhouse as they grow, but most established businesses find the model prohibitive because:

    • Failover to another high-speed line with SLA must be established for continuous connectivity
    • The cost of data migration for existing data
    • Locating, implementing and monitoring reliable cloud backup solutions
    • Security, encryption and passw
  • If we all outsource all the hands-on work, that means nobody will have to do it anymore!

    Seriously, this seems to be the way some business folks think. Outsource your call centers to India, and poof, no more call centers. Outsource your development to Russia, and poof, no more developers. Because it's not taken care of internally, it must be that the work doesn't happen or isn't necessary anymore.

  • Managers are sick of hearing it will take 5 years to develop and 5 million dollars.

    They want it done for next Thursday, for 30,000 dollars. If that entails taking on a bit of risk associated with that, I think most would say "OK cool."...

    Many IT shops are bloated and inefficient, and outsource everything really technical to consultant vendors who rip off the business anyway. Take out the middle men, take out the consultant gougers.

    Personally for small tasks they seem like an OK solution. However for anythin

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